BibTeX is reference management software
Reference management software
Reference management software, citation management software or personal bibliographic management software is software for scholars and authors to use for recording and utilising bibliographic citations . Once a citation has been recorded, it can be used time and again in generating bibliographies,...

 for formatting lists of references
Bibliography , as a practice, is the academic study of books as physical, cultural objects; in this sense, it is also known as bibliology...

. The BibTeX tool is typically used together with the LaTeX
LaTeX is a document markup language and document preparation system for the TeX typesetting program. Within the typesetting system, its name is styled as . The term LaTeX refers only to the language in which documents are written, not to the editor used to write those documents. In order to...

 document preparation system. Within the typesetting system, its name is styled as .

BibTeX makes it easy to cite sources in a consistent manner, by separating bibliographic information from the presentation of this information, similarly to the separation of content and presentation/style supported by LaTeX itself.

Basic structure

In the words of the program's author: "Here's how BibTEX works. It takes as input
  • (a) an .aux file produced by LaTEX on an earlier run;
  • (b) a .bst file (the style file), which specifies the general reference-list style and specifies how to format individual entries, and which is written by a style designer [..] in a special-purpose language [..], and
  • (c) .bib file(s) constituting a database of all reference-list entries the user might ever hope to use.

BibTEX chooses from the .bib file(s) only those entries specified by the .aux file (that is, those given by LaTEX's \cite or \nocite commands), and creates as output a .bbl file containing these entries together with the formatting commands specified by the .bst file [..]. LaTEX will use the .bbl file, perhaps edited by the user, to produce the reference list."

History and reimplementations

BibTeX was created by Oren Patashnik
Oren Patashnik
Oren Patashnik is a computer scientist. He is notable for co-creating BibTeX, and co-writing Concrete Mathematics: A Foundation for Computer Science...

 and Leslie Lamport
Leslie Lamport
Leslie Lamport is an American computer scientist. A graduate of the Bronx High School of Science, he received a B.S. in mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1960, and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in mathematics from Brandeis University, respectively in 1963 and 1972...

 in 1985.
It is written in WEB/Pascal. Version 0.98f was released in March 1985.
With version 0.99c of February 1988, a stationary state was reached for 22 years.
In March 2010, version 0.99d was released, and further releases were announced.

During Patashnik's inactivity 1988-2010, several reimplementations were published:
  • BibTeXu is a reimplementation of bibtex (by Yannis Haralambous and his students) that supports the UTF-8 character set.
  • bibtex8 is a reimplementation of bibtex that supports 8-bit character sets.
  • CL-BibTeX is a completely compatible reimplementation of bibtex in Common Lisp
    Common Lisp
    Common Lisp, commonly abbreviated CL, is a dialect of the Lisp programming language, published in ANSI standard document ANSI INCITS 226-1994 , . From the ANSI Common Lisp standard the Common Lisp HyperSpec has been derived for use with web browsers...

    , capable of using bibtex .bst files directly or converting them into human-readable Lisp .lbst files. CL-BibTeX supports Unicode
    Unicode is a computing industry standard for the consistent encoding, representation and handling of text expressed in most of the world's writing systems...

     in Unicode Lisp implementations, using any character set that Lisp knows about.
  • biblatex is a complete reimplementation. "It redesigns the way in which LaTeX interacts with BibTeX at a fairly fundamental level. With biblatex, BibTeX is only used to sort the bibliography and to generate labels. Instead of being implemented in BibTeX's style files, the formatting of the bibliography is entirely controlled by TeX macros."

Bibliographic information file

BibTeX uses a style-independent text-based file format
File format
A file format is a particular way that information is encoded for storage in a computer file.Since a disk drive, or indeed any computer storage, can store only bits, the computer must have some way of converting information to 0s and 1s and vice-versa. There are different kinds of formats for...

 for lists of bibliography items, such as articles, books, and theses. BibTeX bibliography file names usually end in .bib.

Bibliography entries each contain some subset of standard data entries:
  • address: Publisher's address (usually just the city, but can be the full address for lesser-known publishers)
  • annote: An annotation for annotated bibliography styles (not typical)
  • author: The name(s) of the author(s) (in the case of more than one author, separated by and)
  • booktitle: The title of the book, if only part of it is being cited
  • chapter: The chapter number
  • crossref: The key of the cross-referenced entry
  • edition: The edition of a book, long form (such as "first" or "second")
  • editor: The name(s) of the editor(s)
  • eprint: A specification of an electronic publication, often a preprint or a technical report
  • howpublished: How it was published, if the publishing method is nonstandard
  • institution: The institution that was involved in the publishing, but not necessarily the publisher
  • journal: The journal or magazine the work was published in
  • key: A hidden field used for specifying or overriding the alphabetical order of entries (when the "author" and "editor" fields are missing). Note that this is very different from the key (mentioned just after this list) that is used to cite or cross-reference the entry.
  • month: The month of publication (or, if unpublished, the month of creation)
  • note: Miscellaneous extra information
  • number: The "(issue) number" of a journal, magazine, or tech-report, if applicable. (Most publications have a "volume", but no "number" field.)
  • organization: The conference sponsor
  • pages: Page numbers, separated either by commas or double-hyphens.
  • publisher: The publisher's name
  • school: The school where the thesis was written
  • series: The series of books the book was published in (e.g. "The Hardy Boys
    The Hardy Boys
    The Hardy Boys, Frank and Joe Hardy, are fictional teenage brothers and amateur detectives who appear in various mystery series for children and teens....

    " or "Lecture Notes in Computer Science
    Lecture Notes in Computer Science
    Lecture Notes in Computer Science is a series of computer science books that has been published by Springer Science+Business Media since 1973....

  • title: The title of the work
  • type: The field overriding the default type of publication (e.g. "Research Note" for techreport, "{PhD} dissertation" for phdthesis, "Section" for inbook/incollection)
  • url: The WWW address
  • volume: The volume of a journal or multi-volume book
  • year: The year of publication (or, if unpublished, the year of creation)

In addition, each entry contains a key that is used to cite or cross-reference the entry. This key is the first item in a BibTeX entry, and is not part of any field.

Entry types

Bibliography entries included in a .bib file are split by types. The following types are understood by virtually all BibTeX styles:
article: An article from a journal or magazine.
Required fields: author, title, journal, year
Optional fields: volume, number, pages, month, note, key
book: A book with an explicit publisher.
Required fields: author/editor, title, publisher, year
Optional fields: volume/number, series, address, edition, month, note, key
booklet: A work that is printed and bound, but without a named publisher or sponsoring institution.
Required fields: title
Optional fields: author, howpublished, address, month, year, note, key
conference: The same as inproceedings, included for Scribe
Scribe (markup language)
Scribe is a markup language and word processing system which pioneered the use of descriptive markup. Scribe was revolutionary when it was proposed, because it involved for the first time a clean separation of structure and format.-Beginnings:...

inbook: A part of a book, usually untitled. May be a chapter (or section or whatever) and/or a range of pages.
Required fields: author/editor, title, chapter/pages, publisher, year
Optional fields: volume/number, series, type, address, edition, month, note, key
incollection: A part of a book having its own title.
Required fields: author, title, booktitle, publisher, year
Optional fields: editor, volume/number, series, type, chapter, pages, address, edition, month, note, key
inproceedings: An article in a conference proceedings.
Required fields: author, title, booktitle, year
Optional fields: editor, volume/number, series, pages, address, month, organization, publisher, note, key
manual: Technical documentation.
Required fields: title
Optional fields: author, organization, address, edition, month, year, note, key
mastersthesis: A Master's
Master's degree
A master's is an academic degree granted to individuals who have undergone study demonstrating a mastery or high-order overview of a specific field of study or area of professional practice...

A dissertation or thesis is a document submitted in support of candidature for an academic degree or professional qualification presenting the author's research and findings...

Required fields: author, title, school, year
Optional fields: type, address, month, note, key
misc: For use when nothing else fits.
Required fields: none
Optional fields: author, title, howpublished, month, year, note, key
phdthesis: A Ph.D.
Doctor of Philosophy
Doctor of Philosophy, abbreviated as Ph.D., PhD, D.Phil., or DPhil , in English-speaking countries, is a postgraduate academic degree awarded by universities...

Required fields: author, title, school, year
Optional fields: type, address, month, note, key
proceedings: The proceedings of a conference.
Required fields: title, year
Optional fields: editor, volume/number, series, address, month, publisher, organization, note, key
techreport: A report published by a school or other institution, usually numbered within a series.
Required fields: author, title, institution, year
Optional fields: type, number, address, month, note, key
unpublished: A document having an author and title, but not formally published.
Required fields: author, title, note
Optional fields: month, year, key

Style files

BibTeX formats bibliographic items according to a style file, typically by generating TeX or LaTeX formatting commands. However, style files for generating HTML
HyperText Markup Language is the predominant markup language for web pages. HTML elements are the basic building-blocks of webpages....

 output also exist. BibTeX style files, for which the suffix .bst is common, are written in a simple, stack-based programming language (dubbed "BibTeX Anonymous Forth-Like Language", or "BAFLL", by Drew McDermott) that describes how bibliography items should be formatted. There are some packages which can generate .bst files automatically (like custom-bib or Bib-it).

Most journals or publishers that support LaTeX have a customized bibliographic style file for the convenience of the authors. This ensures that the bibliographic style meets the guidelines of the publisher with minimal effort.


A .bib file might contain the following entry, which describes a mathematical handbook:
author = "Milton {Abramowitz} and Irene A. {Stegun}",
title = "Handbook of Mathematical Functions with
Formulas, Graphs, and Mathematical Tables",
publisher = "Dover",
year = 1964,
address = "New York",
edition = "ninth Dover printing, tenth GPO printing"

If a document references this handbook, the bibliographic information may be formatted in different ways depending on which citation style (APA
APA style
American Psychological Association Style is a set of rules that authors use when submitting papers for publications in APA journals. The APA states that they were developed to assist reading comprehension in the social and behavioral sciences, for clarity of communication, and to "move the idea...

The MLA Style Manual
The MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing is the third edition of The MLA Style Manual, first published by the Modern Language Association of America in 1985...

, Chicago
The Chicago Manual of Style
The Chicago Manual of Style is a style guide for American English published since 1906 by the University of Chicago Press. Its 16 editions have prescribed writing and citation styles widely used in publishing...

 etc.) is employed. The way LaTeX deals with this is by specifying \cite commands and the desired bibliography style in the LaTeX document. If the command \cite{abramowitz+stegun} appears inside a LaTeX document, the bibtex program will include this book in the list of references for the document and generate appropriate LaTeX formatting code. When viewing the formatted LaTeX document, the result might look like this:
Abramowitz, Milton and Irene A. Stegun (1964), Handbook of mathematical functions with formulas, graphs, and mathematical tables. New York: Dover.

Depending on the style file, BibTeX may rearrange authors' last names, change the case of titles, omit fields present in the .bib file, format text in italics, add punctuation, etc. Since the same style file is used for an entire list of references, these are all formatted consistently with minimal effort required from authors or editors.

Author formatting

Last name prefixes such as von, van and der are handled automatically, provided they are in lower case to distinguish them from middle names. Multiple word last names are distinguished from first and middle names by placing the last names first, then a comma, then the first and middle names. Name suffixes such as Jr., Sr., and III are generally handled by using two comma separators as in the following example:

author = "von Hicks, III, Michael",
title = "Design of a Carbon Fiber Composite Grid Structure for the GLAST
Spacecraft Using a Novel Manufacturing Technique",
publisher = "Stanford Press",
year = 2001,
address = "Palo Alto",
edition = "1st,",
isbn = "0-69-697269-4"

If the author does not use a comma to separate the name suffix from the last name, then curly brackets {Hicks III} may be used instead.

Multiple authors should be separated with an and, not with commas:

author = "Joe Torre and Tom Verducci",
publisher = "Doubleday",
title = "The Yankee Years",
year = 2008,
isbn = "0385527403"


BibTeX allows referring to other publications via the crossref field. In the following example the 'author:06' publication references to 'conference:06'.
@INPROCEEDINGS {author:06,
title = {Some publication title},
author = {First Author and Second Author},
crossref = {conference:06},
pages = {330—331},
@PROCEEDINGS {conference:06,
editor = {First Editor and Second Editor},
title = {Proceedings of the Xth Conference on XYZ},
booktitle = {Proceedings of the Xth Conference on XYZ},
year = {2006},
month = oct,

The referred entry must stand below the referring one. Remember to add booktitle to the proceedings entry in order to avoid 'empty booktitle' BibTex warning.
The LaTeX output of this input might look like:
Author, First and Author, Second (October 2006), Some publication title, in: Proceedings of the Xth Conference on XYZ, pp 330-331.

Using more than one input file

Having more than one input file, it is recommended to use the command \bibliography only once and insert the various files separated by commas (and no spaces) inside the curly brackets. Example:



  • NASA Astrophysics Data System
    Astrophysics Data System
    The Astrophysics Data System , developed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration , is an online database of over eight million astronomy and physics papers from both peer reviewed and non-peer reviewed sources...

     – The ADS is an online database of over eight million astronomy and physics papers and provides BibTeX format citations.
  • ACL Anthology – A Digital Archive of Research Papers in Computational Linguistics.
  • BibSonomy
    BibSonomy is a social bookmarking and publication-sharing system. It aims to integrate the features of bookmarking systems as well as team-oriented publication management...

     – A social bookmark and publication management system based on BibTeX.
  • CiteSeer
    CiteSeer was a public search engine and digital library for scientific and academic papers. It is often considered to be the first automated citation indexing system and was considered a predecessor of academic search tools such as Google Scholar and Microsoft Academic Search. It was replaced by...

     – An online database of research publications which can produce BibTeX format citations.
  • CiteULike
    CiteULike is based on the principle of social bookmarking and is aimed to promote and to develop the sharing of scientific references amongst researchers. In the same way that it is possible to catalog web pages or photographs , scientists can share information on academic papers with specific...

     – A community based bibliography database with BibTeX input and output.
  • The Collection of Computer Science Bibliographies
    The Collection of Computer Science Bibliographies
    The Collection of Computer Science Bibliographies is one of the oldest bibliography collections freely accessible on the Internet. It is a collection of bibliographies of scientific literature in computer science and mathematics from various sources, covering most aspects of computer science...

     – uses BibTeX as internal data format, search results and contributions primarily in BibTeX.
  • Connotea
    Connotea is a free online reference management service for scientists, researchers, and clinicians, created in December 2004 by Nature Publishing Group...

     – Open-source social bookmark style publication management system.
  • Digital Bibliography & Library Project
    Digital Bibliography & Library Project
    DBLP is a computer science bibliography website hosted at Universität Trier, in Germany. It was originally a database and logic programming bibliography site, and has existed at least since the 1980s. DBLP listed more than 1.3 million articles on computer science in January 2010...

     – A bibliography website that lists more than 910,000 articles in the computer science field.
  • Google Books - The bibliographic information for each book is exportable in BibTeX format via the 'Export Citation' feature.
  • Google Scholar
    Google Scholar
    Google Scholar is a freely accessible web search engine that indexes the full text of scholarly literature across an array of publishing formats and disciplines. Released in beta in November 2004, the Google Scholar index includes most peer-reviewed online journals of Europe and America's largest...

     – Google's system for searching scholarly literature provides BibTeX format citations if you enable the option in 'Scholar Preferences'.
  • HubMed
    HubMed is an alternative, third-party interface to PubMed, the database of biomedical literature produced by the National Library of Medicine. Features include relevance-ranked search results, web feeds of query updates, direct citation export, tagging and graphical display of related articles.-...

     – A versatile PubMed
    PubMed is a free database accessing primarily the MEDLINE database of references and abstracts on life sciences and biomedical topics. The United States National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health maintains the database as part of the Entrez information retrieval system...

     interface including BibTeX output.
  • MathSciNet – Database by the American Mathematical Society (subscription), choose BibTeX in the "Select alternative format" box
  • Qiqqa
    Qiqqa is freeware and freemium reference management software that allows researchers to work with thousands of PDFs. It combines PDF reference management tools, a citation manager and a mind map brainstorming tool. It integrates with Microsoft Word XP, 2003, 2007 and 2010 and BibTeX/LaTeX to...

     – Provides a fully featured BibTeX editor and validator, along with tools for automatically populating BibTeX records for your PDFs.
  • refbase
    refbase is web-based institutional repository and reference management software which is often used for self-archiving. refbase is licensed under the GPL and written in PHP and uses a MySQL backend....

     – Open source reference manager for institutional repositories and self archiving with BibTeX input and output.
  • RefTeX
    RefTeX is a reference management software package designed for use with Emacs and BibTeX. It can cooperate with the popular AUCTeX package. It is distributed under the GNU General Public License.- External links :* homepage...

     – Emacs
    Emacs is a class of text editors, usually characterized by their extensibility. GNU Emacs has over 1,000 commands. It also allows the user to combine these commands into macros to automate work.Development began in the mid-1970s and continues actively...

     based reference manager
    Spires may refer to:* SPIRES, a database for publications in High-Energy Physics* Speyer , a city in Germany* The Spires, a commercial conference centre, operated out of Church House, Belfast by the Presbyterian Church in Ireland...

     – The SPIRES High-Energy Physics literature database with BibTeX support.
  • Zentralblatt MATH
    Zentralblatt MATH
    Zentralblatt MATH is a service providing reviews and abstracts for articles in pure and applied mathematics, published by Springer Science+Business Media. It is a major international reviewing service which covers the entire field of mathematics...

     – Database by the European Mathematical Society
    European Mathematical Society
    The European Mathematical Society is a European organization dedicated to the development of mathematics in Europe. Its members are different mathematical societies in Europe, academic institutions and individual mathematicians...

    , FIZ Karlsruhe and Heidelberg Academy (subscription, 3 free entries); choose BibTeX button or format.
  • Zotero
    Zotero is free, open source reference management software to manage bibliographic data and related research materials . Notable features include web browser integration, online syncing, generation of in-text citations, footnotes and bibliographies, as well as integration with the word processors...

     – Firefox
    Mozilla Firefox
    Mozilla Firefox is a free and open source web browser descended from the Mozilla Application Suite and managed by Mozilla Corporation. , Firefox is the second most widely used browser, with approximately 25% of worldwide usage share of web browsers...

     plugin with advanced features such as synchronization between different computers, social bookmarking, searching inside saved PDFs
    Portable Document Format
    Portable Document Format is an open standard for document exchange. This file format, created by Adobe Systems in 1993, is used for representing documents in a manner independent of application software, hardware, and operating systems....

     and BibTeX output.

See also

  • Citation style language
    Citation style language
    The Citation Style Language is an open XML-based language to describe the formatting of citations and bibliographies. Reference management programs using CSL include Zotero, Mendeley and Papers.-History:...

  • Comparison of reference management software
    Comparison of reference management software
    - General :In the "notes" section, there is a difference between:* web-based, referring to applications that may be installed on a web server...

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.